Veretout scores twice as Roma beat Udinese to reclaim third

·2-min read
Jordan Veretout powered Roma into the lead with a fifth-minute header against Udinese

French midfielder Jordan Veretout struck twice on Sunday as Roma beat Udinese 3-0 to climb back to third in Serie A.

Atalanta moved up to seventh, level on points with fifth-placed Napoli, after Luis Muriel scored in the 90th minute to earn a 1-0 victory at Cagliari.

One week after losing to Juventus, who jumped into third, Roma took advantage of the reigning champions' loss to Napoli on Saturday night.

Roma continued their strong form at the Stadio Olimpico even without Edin Dzeko, who returned from his brief exile when he came on for the last 21 minutes. They are the only team in Serie A unbeaten at home this season.

Veretout put Roma ahead after five minutes, racing forward to meet a cross from Gianluca Mancini with a powerful header.

After visiting goalkeeper Juan Musso upended Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the 25th minute, Veretout converted the penalty.

It was Veretout's fourth succesful penalty and ninth league goal of the season.

With 15 league goals (and 17 in all competitions) since his arrival in Rome from Fiorentina in 2019, the former Aston Villa and Nantes player has overtaken Vincent Candela as Roma's top-scoring French player.

Veretout said he had been told to get into the opposing penalty area more often by coach Paulo Fonseca.

"I have challenged him on the number of goals he scores," said Fonseca. "I told him that he had to score more than ten."

Pedro Rodriguez replaced Veretout after 78 minutes and added the third goal in stoppage time.

Roma moved a point ahead of Juventus and three points clear of Napoli, though those teams have a game in hand, against each other.

Roma are six points behind leaders AC Milan and four points behind Inter Milan who host Lazio in the evening match.

In Cagliari, Atalanta were frustrated for 90 minutes by the relegation-haunted hosts before the game sprung to life in the dying seconds.

Atalanta looked heavy legged four days after beating Napoli in an Italian Cup semi-final but their bench made the difference. Muriel, who came on in the 68th minute, beat two defenders on the edge of the box before drilling home the winner in the 90th minute.

Four minutes later, with added time expired, the referee pointed to the penalty spot after Cagliari's Daniele Rugani tried to shoot and caught Marten de Roon's leg, but after review concluded that the Atalanta sub had touched the ball first.

"It was a very difficult match from the start, I'm happy to have scored. Winning like that means a lot," said Muriel.